- The action of the verb explore.
- Present participle of to explore.
Exploration is the act of searching or traveling for the purpose of discovery, e.g. of unknown people, including space (space exploration), for oil, gas, coal, ores, caves, water (Mineral exploration or prospecting), or information.
Although exploration has existed as long as human beings, its peak is seen as being during the Age of Discovery when European navigators travelled around the world discovering new lands and cultures.
The term may also be used metaphorically, for example persons may speak of exploring the internet, sexuality, etc.
In scientific research, exploration is one of three purposes of research (the other two being description and explanation). Exploration is the attempt to develop an initial, rough understanding of some phenomenon.
- Pytheas (380 – c. 310 BC) - Greek explorer. First to circumnavigate Great Britain and to explore Germany. Reached Thule, most commonly thought to be the Shetland Islands or Iceland.
- Erik the Red (950 - 1003) - Norwegian Viking explorer. After being cast out from Iceland, he sailed to Greenland and settled there.
- Leif Ericson (980 - 1020) - Icelandic explorer. Believed to have been the first European to land in North America.
- Friar Julian (traveled in 1235) - Hungarian Dominican friar.
- Marco Polo (1254 - 1324) - Italian explorer.
- Ibn Battuta (1304 - 1377) - Moroccan explorer.
- Zheng He (1371 - 1433) - Chinese explorer.
- João Fernandes Lavrador (1445? - 1501) - Portuguese explorer. First European reaching Labrador/New Found Land. Fernandes charted the coasts of Southwestern Greenland and of adjacent Northeastern North America around 1498. In 1501, Fernandes set sail again in discovery of lands and was never heard from again.
- John Cabot (c. 1450 - 1499) - Italian explorer for England. Discovered Newfoundland and claimed it for the Kingdom of England.
- Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1450 - 1500) - Portuguese explorer. He sailed from Portugal and reached the Cape of Good Hope.
- Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506) - Italian explorer for Spain. Sailed in 1492 and discovered the "New World" of the Americas.
- Amerigo Vespucci (c. 1454 - 1512) - Italian explorer for Spain. Sailed in 1499 and 1502. He explored the east coast of South America.
- Juan Ponce de León (c. 1460 - 1521) - Spanish explorer. He explored Florida while attempting to locate a Fountain of Youth.
- Piri Reis (c. 1465/1470 – 1554/1555) - Ottoman explorer.
- Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1467 - c. 1520) - Portuguese explorer, generally regarded as the European discoverer of Brazil.
- Vasco da Gama (c. 1469 - 1524) - Portuguese explorer. The first European to sail from Europe to India by rounding the Cape of Good Hope.
- Vasco Núñez de Balboa (c. 1475 - 1519) - Spanish explorer. The first European to cross the Isthmus of Panama and view the Pacific ocean from American shores.
- Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475 - 1541) - Spanish explorer. Conquered the Inca Empire.
- Juan Sebastián Elcano (1476 - 1526) - Spanish explorer. Completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in a single expedition after its captain, Magellan, was killed.
- Ferdinand Magellan (1480 - 1521) - Portuguese explorer for Spain. Initiated the first circumnavigation of the globe in a single expedition. Sailed through Strait of Magellan and named Pacific Ocean. Died in the Philippines after claiming them for Spain.
- Giovanni da Verrazzano (c. 1485 - 1528) - Italian explorer for France. Explored the northeast coast of America, from about present day South Carolina to Newfoundland.
- Hernán Cortés (1485 - 1545) - Spanish explorer. Conquered the Aztec Empire for Spain.
- Jacques Cartier (1491 – 1557) - French explorer. Discovered Canada.
- Hernando de Soto (c. 1496 - 1542) - Spanish explorer. Explored Florida, mainly northwest Florida, and discovered the Mississippi River.
- Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (c. 1510 - 1554) - Spanish explorer. Searched for the Seven Cities of Gold and discovered the Grand Canyon in the process.
- Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa (1532 - 1592) Spanish explorer of the Pacific.
- Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 - 1596) - English explorer. The first English captain to sail around the world and survive.
- Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra 1541-1596 Spanish explorer of the Pacific.
- Willem Barentsz 1550-1597 Dutch navigator and explorer, leader of early expeditions to the far north.
- Pedro Fernandes de Queirós 1565-1614 Portuguese navigator. Explored the Pacific in the service of the Spanish Crown.
- Luis Váez de Torres (c. 1565- ) Spanish or Portuguese navigator. Explored the Pacific in the service of the Spanish Crown.
- Henry Hudson (1570 - 1611) - English explorer. Explored much of the North Atlantic, including Labrador, the coast of Greenland, and Hudson Bay. Presumed dead in a 1611 mutiny of his own crew.
- Father António de Andrade (1580 - 1634) - Portuguese explorer. First European reaching Tibet. His reports were the only account of the Tibet culture and geography until the second half of the 18th century.
- Abel Tasman (1603 - 1659) - Dutch explorer. Discovered New Zealand and Tasmania.
- Evliya Çelebi (1611 - 1682) - Ottoman traveller.
- Vitus Bering (1681 - 1741) - Danish explorer. Explored the Siberian Far East and Alaska and claimed it for Russia.
- James Cook (1728 - 1779) - English naval captain. Explored much of the Pacific including New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii.
- Jean François La Pérouse (1741–1788) was a French Navy officer and explorer whose expedition vanished in Oceania
- Alessandro Malaspina (1754-1810) - Italian explorer. Explored the Pacific and the west coast of North America in the service of Spanish Crown
- Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820) Scottish-Canadian explorer who in 1789, looking for the Northwest Passage, followed the river now named after him to the Arctic Ocean and then in 1793 crossed the Rockies and reached the Pacific in 1793, thus beating Lewis and Clark by 12 years.
- Alexander von Humboldt (1769 - 1859) - German explorer and scientist whose work was foundational to the field of biogeography.
- Captain Meriwether Lewis (1774 - 1809) - American explorer and field scientist who led the Lewis and Clark Expedition into the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest in 1804-1806.
- Charles Wilkes (April 3, 1798 – February 8, 1877) - American naval officer and explorer who commanded the United States Exploring Expedition
- Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801 - 1873) - Belgian missionary and explorer in North America.
- David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) - Scottish missionary and explorer in central Africa. He was the first European to see Victoria Falls, which he named in honour of Queen Victoria.
- Henry Morton Stanley (1841 – 1904) - Welsh journalist and explorer in central Africa best remembered for his search for David Livingstone, and upon finding him saying: "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
- George Comer (1858 - 1937) - American polar explorer. The Comer Strait of northern Southampton Island and the Gallinula comeri flightless bird of Gough Island were named in his honor.
- Fridtjof Nansen (1861 - 1930) - Norwegian explorer, scientist and diplomat. He was the first to cross the Greenland ice cap in 1888 and drifted across the Arctic ocean with the Fram in 1893-1896 where he attempted to reach the North Pole with Hjalmar Johansen.
- Otto Sverdrup (1854 - 1930) - Norwegian explorer. Joined Fridtjof Nansen acoss Greenland in 1888 and captain on the Fram on the polar drift in 1893-1896 and the 2nd Fram expedition in 1898-1902. Mapped the Northenmost part of Canada in 1898-1902.
- Roald Amundsen (1872 - 1928) - Norwegian explorer. He led the first successful Antarctic expedition between 1910 and 1912. He was also the first ever person to successfully traverse the North West Passage.
- Ernest Shackleton (1874 - 1922) - British Explorer, noted for his ill-fated Endurance expedition to Antarctica.
- Hiram Bingham III (1875 - 1956) - U.S. Senator from Connecticut and explorer best known for uncovering Machu Picchu.
- Robert Bartlett (1875 - 1946) - Newfoundland captain. Led over 40 expeditions to the Arctic, more than anyone before or since. Was the first to sail north of 88° N latitude.
- Knud Rasmussen (1879 - 1933) - Greenlandic polar explorer and anthropologist. Rasmussen was the first to cross the Northwest Passage via dog sled.
- Auguste Piccard (1884-1962), physicist, balloonist, hydronaut- Explored the stratosphere and the deep sea
- Ahmed Pasha Hassanein (1889 - 1946) - Egyptian explorer, diplomat, one of two non-European winners of Gold Medal of Royal Geographical Society in 1924, King's chamberlain, fencing participant to 1924 Olympics, photographer, author and discoverer of Jebel Uweinat, and writer of "The Lost Oases" book in three languages.
- Colonel Noel Andrew Croft (1906 - 1998) - held the record for the longest self-sustaining journey across the Arctic in the 1930s for 60 years.
- Sir Edmund Percival Hillary (1919–2008) - New Zealand explorer, together with Tenzing Norgay, the first to climb Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.
- Yuri Gagarin (March 9, 1934 – March 27, 1968) - Soviet cosmonaut who on April 12 1961 became the first man in space and the first human to orbit Earth.
- Neil Armstrong (born August 5, 1930) - American astronaut - First human being to set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
- Robert Ballard - born in 1942) - undersea explorer; discovered the shipwreck of the RMS Titanic.
- Dr. E. Lee Spence (1947- ) - undersea explorer and pioneer underwater archaeologist: discovered numerous shipwrecks including H.L. Hunley the first submarine in history to sink an enemy ship; and the Georgiana, said to have been the most powerful Confederate cruiser.
- Reinhold Messner (born September 17, 1944) - Italian mountaineer, first man to climb all the 14 peaks higher than 8,000 meters.
- Frank Cole (1954 - 2000) - Canadian explorer, filmmaker and life extensionist. He was the first North American to cross the Sahara desert in 1990 alone on camel. He was murdered by bandits during a second crossing in 2000.
Exploration by area
- Ocean Explorer - Public outreach site for explorations sponsored by the Office of Ocean Exploration.
- NOAA, Ocean Explorer History
- NOAA, Ocean Explorer Gallery - A rich collection of images, video, audio and podcast.
- NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration
- Explorers worksheets and printables for teachers
- Hassanein Bey of the Libyan Desert, RGS Gold Medalist of 1924 - NGS article of 1924, biography, etc.
- National Geographic Explorers - National Geographic Explorers
exploring in Arabic: استكشاف
exploring in Breton: Ergerzhadeg
exploring in Danish: Opdagelsesrejse
exploring in German: Exploration
exploring in Spanish: Exploración
exploring in Esperanto: Esplorado
exploring in French: Exploration
exploring in Croatian: Popis istraživača
exploring in Italian: Esploratori
exploring in Hebrew: מגלה ארצות
exploring in Dutch: Ontdekkingsreizen
exploring in Japanese: 探検
exploring in Portuguese: Exploração
exploring in Albanian: Eksplorimi
exploring in Finnish: Tutkimusmatkailija
exploring in Swedish: Upptäcktsresa
exploring in Vietnamese: Thám hiểm
exploring in Yiddish: עקספלאראציע
exploring in Chinese: 探险家